Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
“The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe
Card picked: Nine of Spades – A Wild Card
From: Read online at http://www.eapoe.org/works/harrison/jah06t03.htm
I had considered reading Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” for this card, but throughout this week and last, Poe was in the air. Aside from my own reading of “The Murder of Marie Roget” last week, Jay reviewed Poe: A Life Cut Short by Peter Ackroyd (which sounds promising) and I’ve encountered several reviews of Mrs. Poe which is currently on blog tour (a book I did not care for). I decided instead to read the last of Poe’s trio of C. Auguste Dupin stories, mainly because I couldn’t remember if I had read it or not.
Devoid of murders and the macabre, “The Purloined Letter” could easily be the template for numerous Sherlock Holmes stories. The action: The Prefect of Police, G, comes to Dupin’s drawing room with a problem. A lady of standing has had an indelicate letter stolen and is being blackmailed. The Paris police know who the thief is and have discretely and thoroughly searched Minister D’s apartments. Well, I’m not sure how discretely considering the cops have gone through all of the man’s books, page by page, and examined the furniture and floor with “microscopes” to make sure they haven’t been tampered with. They’ve even robbed/frisked Minister D while undercover. They haven’t found the letter. G asks Dupin what he should do. Dupin tells him to search again. A month passes off-screen. G still hasn’t found the letter and offers a large reward for it. Dupin coolly tells him to write a check and hands G the letter. After the Prefect leaves, Dupin tells his befuddled friend, our narrator, how he found the letter.
This story doesn’t have the wow factor of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” but is less dry than “Marie Roget.” There’s a few bits that struck me as particularly amusing:
G is described as having
a fashion of calling every thing “odd” that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of “oddities.”
Describing Minister D:
“Not altogether a fool,” said G., “but then he’s a poet, which I take to be only one remove from a fool.”
“True,” said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful whiff from his meerschaum, “although I have been guilty of certain doggrel myself.”
Which is pretty funny considering Poe’s reputation as a poet.
Is This Your Card?
The Nine of Spades makes an appearance early in this clip. Although the lighting is not great, it’s worth watching to the end.